Intel quietly mentions 4K support, could introduce higher screen resolutions under upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture

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Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 06:48
Category: Hardware, News, Software

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The Retina Display: it’s never been a bad thing.

Per VR-Zone, Intel quietly revealed last week that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support the 4K display resolution, with up to 4096 x 4096 pixels per monitor, potentially paving the way for Apple to introduce high-resolution “Retina Display” Macs.

The company announced the news during a technical session at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last week, as noted by VR-Zone. Ivy Bridge chips will rival competing discrete GPUs by including support for the 4K resolution when they arrive next year.

The company also highlighted a Multi Format Codec (MFX) engine that is capable of playing multiple 4K videos at once. The codec is also capable of handling video processing for 4K QuadHD video, a standard that YouTube began supporting last year.

A set of performance enhancements, with special attention to graphics, should give Ivy Bridge as much as a 60 percent performance boost over the current generation of Sandy Bridge chips, according to Intel.

Intel also revealed last week that Ivy Bridge chips will include support for Apple’s OpenCL standard, which should give a performance boost to next-generation MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models when they arrive in 2012.

If Apple were to introduce a 4K resolution display with the 16:9 ratio currently used in its Thunderbolt Display, iMac and MacBook Air products, the resulting resolution would be 4096 x 2304. A 27-inch display with 4K resolution would sport a pixel density of 174 pixels per inch. Assuming a working distance of 24 inches and 20/20 vision for the calculations, a 4K 27-inch iMac or Thunderbolt display would count as a “Retina Display.”

Apple first began using the “Retina Display” marketing term with the iPhone 4 last year. Then CEO Steve Jobs touted the 326ppi display as being beyond the capabilities of the human retina when used at a distance of 12 or more inches from the eyes.

In September 2010, the company released a Retina Display iPod touch. Rumors have also swirled that Apple will follow suit with a high-resolution version of the third-generation iPad, doubling the resolution of the tablet to 2048 x 1536.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple support note advises against daisy-chaining Thunderbolt-equipped displays

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:27
Category: Hardware, News

Apple’s new Thunderbolt-equipped displays are getting good reviews and can do a fair number of things.

But they can’t be daisy-chained.

According to an Apple support document, the company has noted that previous DisplayPort screens will not work when attached to the Thunderbolt port of its new display.

Thunderbolt-equipped Macs can support one or two Thunderbolt Displays, depending on the Thunderbolt chip in the system.

Apple notes that MacBook Airs support one external Thunderbolt Display in addition to their built in screen, while MacBook Pros, iMacs and the Mac mini can all support two Thunderbolt Displays.

With two external displays, the lowest end 13 inch MacBook Pro will lose the ability to drive its built in screen, while the highest end Mac mini with discrete AMD graphics can support two Thunderbolt Displays in addition to a third screen attached to its HDMI port.

However, users with an existing Mini DisplayPort external monitor will not be able to daisy chain the screen from the back of the new Thunderbolt Display, despite it being physically compatible with the port. Apple notes that “Mini DisplayPort displays will not light up if connected to the Thunderbolt port on an Apple Thunderbolt Display.”

Existing Mini DisplayPort screens, such as Apple’s LED Cinema Display, have never previously supported daisy chaining multiple screens to a single Mini DisplayPort interface, but the screens are supposed to work at the end of a Thunderbolt chain if there are no other displays in the chain.

Having any other screen in the Thunderbolt chain will kill ability of previous, non-Thunderbolt displays from being able to receive the DisplayPort signal, negating their forward compatibility with the new Thunderbolt standard.

The new Thunderbolt Display just began shipping to users yesterday after Apple released firmware updates for its new Thunderbolt-equipped Macs to solve remaining issues with working with the new screens.

In addition to serving as an external screen with stereo speakers, a FaceTime camera and a Magsafe power supply for powering a connected notebook, the new Thunderbolt Display also incorporates the features of a docking station, supplying connected Thunderbolt Macs with Gigabit Ethernet, three additional USB 2.0 ports, Firewire 800 and an additional Thunderbolt port.

Apple recommends that users connect storages devices to the display’s Thunderbolt port rather than connecting the display further down the chain.

If you’ve received a new Thunderbolt-equipped Apple display and have feedback regarding it, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple begins shipping Thunderbolt-equipped Cinema Display units

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Date: Friday, September 16th, 2011, 06:36
Category: Hardware, News

Per AppleInsider, a number of users have reported that Apple has begun shipping LED Thunderbolt Displays directly to them.

The customers reported late Thursday that their Thunderbolt Display orders have shipped, with one Australian customer claimed that the display has already arrived.

Apple unveiled the new US$999 27-inch LED Thunderbolt Display in July alongside new Mac Minis and MacBook Airs, promising availability within 60 days. The new display is the first to support the Thunderbolt I/O technology. In addition to Thunderbolt, the display includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, a 2.1 speaker system, MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire 800 port, and one Gigabit Ethernet port.

Reports emerged last week that Apple had begun shipping the new displays to its retail stores with plans to begin fulfilling individual pre-orders on Sept. 15.

Earlier this week, Apple released a MacBook Pro firmware update enabling support for the new display. Early 2011 Thunderbolt MacBook Pro models and other Thunderbolt-capable Macs with discrete graphics support two daisy-chained displays, though the new MacBook Air supports only one display.

Intel and Apple introduced the Thunderbolt technology in February. On Thursday, the chipmaker relayed its plans for the specification, which will eventually support transfer speeds of up to 100Gbps after the transition to optical cabling.

If you’ve received a shipping notice about your Thunderbolt-equipped display or the display itself and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Intel discusses Haswell achitecture, cites 24 hour notebook battery charge, 10 day standby, expected 2013 release date

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 09:43
Category: battery, Hardware, News

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Wait two years and your notebook’s battery life problems could get quite a bit easier to deal with.

Per Macworld, Intel’s next processor platform, code named Haswell, will offer more than 10 days of connected standby battery life and the ability to run your laptop for a full 24 hours on one charge.

Standby connected power will be decreased about 20 times over current Sandy Bridge processors. In real-life terms, this means you could put your laptop to sleep, unplugged, and it could still be working in the background, getting your emails and IMs, for ten days straight.

With 24 hours of battery life, those long-distance flights and day trips will no longer be a worry.

Intel also stated that this technology was slated for 2013, which means you have plenty of time to hanker for it.

For those looking to the more near-term, Intel is expected to released the Ivy Bridge chipset in 2012, which will use a new 22-nanometer architecture to replace the current Sandy Bridge architecture and help make laptops more power efficient in the process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hitachi announces 4TB external hard drive unit, includes Thunderbolt port

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Date: Friday, September 9th, 2011, 02:37
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

Following up on Seagate’s announcement of a 4TB external hard drive, Hitachi has introduced its own 4TB disk and is packing two of them inside a whopping 8TB G-RAID external case complete with Thunderbolt.

Per Mac|Life, the company has placed two such drives inside a G-RAID casing and Thunderbolt I/O port on the outside. The company’s new 4TB-based G-RAID and single-drive G-DRIVE solutions will ship with Thunderbolt in the fourth quarter, but lovers of legacy I/O ports including eSATA, FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 can get their mitts on one in October.

G-RAID with Thunderbolt is billed as the highest capacity two-drive RAID 0 external storage device in the world, ready to use right out of the box with Mac OS X systems where it appears as a single, big and fast hard drive. (G-RAID also supports Windows systems with a simple reformat.)

The company hasn’t announced any firm pricing for the new G-RAID with Thunderbolt, but interested consumers of big storage can stay tuned to the company’s website for more details in the near future.

Seagate releases 4TB FreeAgent GoFlex external hard drive

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Date: Thursday, September 8th, 2011, 08:04
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

This could prove useful.

Per Mac|Life, the cool cats at Seagate have released the company’s latest GoFlex Desk external hard drive, which now tops out at a whopping 4TB for only US$249.

Seagate has announced a new model of their popular FreeAgent GoFlex Desk external hard drive, which now maxes out at 4TB with a USB 3.0 (backward compatible with USB 2.0) connection for only US$249.99. The model is currently in stock and shipping now.

The drive functions as a single 4TB hard drive in an external case, which the company is touting as an industry first.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re able to get your mitts on one, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple begins shipping Thunderbolt-equipped displays to customer base

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Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 03:03
Category: Hardware, News

This had to come eventually.

Per MacRumors, Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display to its retail stores and resellers this week, while individual pre-orders are said to have shipping estimates of Sept. 15.

The new displays are arriving this week and will be available for purchase “very soon.” Meanwhile, Electronista noted that it has heard of Sept. 15 shipping estimates for online pre-order customers.

Apple unveiled the US$999 27-inch LED display, billed as the world’s first display to take advantage of the new Thunderbolt I/O technology, in July, promising availability within 60 days. The display requires a Mac with a Thunderbolt I/O port.

The Thunderbolt Display features a 16:9 edge-to-edge glass design with an ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle made possible via IPS technology. It also includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, a 2.1 speaker system, MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, a FireWire 800 port and a Thunderbolt port.

Up to five additional Thunderbolt devices can be daisy chained to the display. Additionally, eligible Macs, such as the MacBook Pro, can run two Thunderbolt Displays.

Apple and Intel co-developed the Thunderbolt standard, combining the chipmaker’s Light Peak technology with the Mini DisplayPort standard. Thunderbolt currently supports two channels of 10Gbps transfers in both directions and is expected to eventually reach speeds of 100Gbps.

The first Thunderbolt external RAID storage options arrived on the Apple online store in June. LaCie was scheduled to release the more consumer-oriented Little Big Disk Thunderbolt drive in “Summer 2011,” but has yet to announce a more specific release date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on a Thunderbolt display, let us know what you think of it in the comments.

iFixit releases dual hard drive kit for 2011 Mac mini units

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Date: Wednesday, August 24th, 2011, 05:32
Category: hard drive, Hardware, Mac mini, News

This might prove useful.

Teardown specialist and accessory manufacturer iFixit has announced that the company has released its Mac Mini Dual Hard Drive Kit. While the kit doesn’t come with an additional hard drive, it provides you with the tools to install one, including a proprietary SATA hard drive cable, four shock-absorbing mounting grommets, four mounting screws, a Mac Mini Logic Board Removal Tool, a 26-Piece Bit Driver Kit, and a handy spudger.

Users can install either a solid-state or traditional spinning hard drive, depending on your preferences.

Though iFixit lists this repair as “difficult,” the company does provide a 38 installation guide along with the product.

Users can purchase the Mac Mini Dual Hard Drive Kit from iFixit’s website for US$70 and you’ll need a 2011-era 2.33GHz, 2.5GHz, or 2.7GHz Mac Mini (Model A1347).

Samsung looking to release 512GB solid-state notebook hard drive

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Date: Thursday, August 11th, 2011, 06:11
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

You love having a solid-state hard drive, but you’ve had to put your Mac’s files on a crash diet to fit everything on there.

This might be the solution.

Per Electronista, Samsung announced its 2.5-inch PM830, capable of holding as much as 512GB, twice as much as most SSDs, but also has the headroom to maximize its speed. The drive can reach up to 500MB per second in reads, 350MB in writes, and has an SATA 3.0 connection to make sure it reaches its potential.

The Korean firm estimates that the SSD can cold boot in about 10 seconds and transfer five DVDs, or nearly 24GB, in under a minute. All of the extra density comes from Samsung’s newer 20 nanometer flash memory, which with a toggle DDR link makes better use of space without slowing down. Security can be locked down through 256-bit AES encryption.

Along with the 512GB version, 128GB and 256GB capacities are available today. Currently, the drives are limited to pre-assembled “premium” notebooks and even tablets. Samsung has vowed to make an aftermarket version that owners can drop in themselves, but it hasn’t committed to a release date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple expands buyback/recycling program for old iPhones, iPads and Macs

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Date: Wednesday, August 10th, 2011, 04:03
Category: Hardware, News

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If you have elderly Mac stuff, you can still get something for it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has enhanced its recycling program to add a new “reuse” option that pays owners of existing iPhones, iPads, Mac or PC desktop or notebook computers a fair market value for their old equipment, paid via an Apple Gift Card.

The company continues to offer a variety of recycling programs: a place to dump unwanted electronics of any kind at its Cupertino, California head quarters (which it has operated since 2002); free recycling of Mac batteries at any of its retail stores; and free pickup and disposal of any brand of computer or display contracted through WeRecycle!, which user can obtain a free prepaid shipping label from at www.werecycle.com.

Users who own an iOS device or a computer from any manufacturer can obtain a credit for the fair market value of that device, calculated by PowerOn, a third party company Apple has contracted with to run the reuse program.

While recycling old products dismantles them and harvests valuable components such as metal, plastic and glass for recycled use in new products, reuse is an even greener option, as it extends the useful life of products that have value in the second hand market.

“If your product qualifies for reuse — meaning it has monetary value — you’ll receive an Apple Gift Card equivalent to its fair market value as determined by PowerON,” Apple states on its new recycling program website.

“You can use the gift card for eligible purchases at any U.S. Apple Retail Store or the U.S. Apple Online Store. If your product does not have monetary value, we’ll recycle it at no cost to you.”

Users can get a preliminary valuation for their old devices online, then arrange to ship them to PowerOn at no cost. The company will then contact the user if the apprised value is different than what was quoted online, a figure based on the user’s own description of the product’s condition.

If the user chooses not to accept the final value, it will be returned at no charge. Otherwise, PowerOn will arrange to credit the user via an Apple Gift Card within three weeks of receipt. The company also securely erases all data remaining on the devices while preparing them for resale.

PowerOn’s estimated value of a functional, first generation iPad in very good condition is US$165, for example. Users may likely be able to find their own second hand buyer for relatively new products in good condition, and fetch a higher price.

However, for older devices with some damage or dysfunctional features, the reuse option may provide an easier, more convenient option that still recoups some value they can then reinvest in new Apple gear.